Software Maintenance and Support
Types, Costs, Tools, and Skills
A software maintenance company with 14 years of experience in ITSM, ScienceSoft provides organizations in 30+ industries with maintenance and support services and ensure that they run like clockwork.
Maintenance and Support: What's the Difference?
Software maintenance is proactive and includes scheduled activities to address non-urgent issues or perform planned improvements. Software support is reactive and covers activities on handling urgent issues that can hamper software operation and cause downtimes. Most our clients opt for both types to ensure stability, scalability, high performance, and robust security of software in the long run.
In our guide, you will find information about the steps, benefits, required professionals, sourcing models, and costs of software maintenance and support services based on ScienceSoft's experience in such projects.
Software Maintenance and Support Setup Plan
The setup plan will differ depending on the specifics of the supported software and its underlying infrastructure, as well as the scope of the required support and maintenance activities.
Below are described the typical steps we at ScienceSoft take to set up maintenance and support activities.
Scope and resources estimation
To determine the scope of the support and maintenance activities, we analyze:
- The software’s related infrastructure.
- Prospective new features and changes.
- The current and planned user pool.
Then, we measure the projected scope against currently available in-house resources, such as dedicated IT specialists and maintenance tools.
Software maintenance and support process design
Depending on the scope of the required activities, maintenance and support processes will comprise a combination of the following elements:
Reactive support (on-demand)
- End user support (L1) – solving usage issues and minor problems, escalating more complex issues.
- Application support (L2) – software troubleshooting, fixing its performance, configuration, and security issues.
- Development support (L3/L4) – fixing software issues on the code and database level, customization, adding new features, software integration.
Proactive support (continuous)
- Software availability, performance, security, and compliance monitoring and management.
- QA activities (including regular code reviews).
- Infrastructure optimization (e.g., cloud resource consumption optimization).
Depending on the support and maintenance activities, we define a set of KPIs to assess and optimize the process. A sample KPIs set includes: the number of changes/updates delivered, the number of changes/updates waiting in a backlog, the number of urgent changes, the time required to introduce a change to the software, user satisfaction score, software outage time, software availability, the number of tickets by type, first response time, and ticket time to resolution.
We map the software support and maintenance process in compliance with international technical standards set by ISO and IEC and take into consideration relevant security and privacy standards (e.g., GDPR and HIPAA).
Choosing a sourcing model and implementation
Model 1: in-house software maintenance
1. Hiring and training staff for software maintenance and support
Duration: 4-8 weeks
2. Tool selection and customization
Duration: 1-4 weeks
Relevant tools are chosen based on the type of software, the maintenance and support scope, the KPIs set, and other aspects. The toolset may include backup software, software for performance and security monitoring, DevOps, help desk, and more.
Best practice: For application performance monitoring, ScienceSoft chooses tools that provide insights into the software CPU and memory usage, transactions profiling, response time and request rates, an app’s handling poor network connectivity, etc.
Model 2: outsourced software maintenance
Duration: 3-12 weeks
To choose the right vendor, you need to:
- Examine top listings of software development companies as 90% of them offer maintenance services.
- Shortlist 3-5 companies based on their adherence to ITSM and DevOps practices, relevant certifications, for example, ITIL, Microsoft certifications (e.g., MSP, MCSA), certifications issues by cloud providers (e.g., Certified Solution Architect, Certified SysOps Administrator by AWS), Red Hat certifications.
- Prepare and send an RFP with software support and maintenance needs.
- Get tailored offers from potential vendors and compare their approaches to the given software maintenance project, as well as relevant expertise.
Software maintenance and support launch
Before launching the maintenance and support process, the details of the required services should be formalized in a service level agreement (SLA). Depending on the scope of software maintenance and support services rendered, SLA may outline:
- Software maintenance terms: software evolution roadmap, software performance requirements and expectations, planned security activities, KPIs, schedule, etc.
- Software support terms: support hours e.g., 8/5, 12/5, 24/5, 24/7, required levels of support, size of a support team, communication channels, KPIs, etc.
Also, we work together with the customer to prepare standard operating procedures (SOPs) and instructions to stipulate all maintenance and support activities.
We schedule regular maintenance windows for the preventive maintenance activities that can cause downtimes. These time intervals should always be available, even if not used each time.
At this stage, we also provide the customer with clear and detailed reports (e.g., reports on team productivity, service quality KPIs, incident reports, security audit reports), and a revised risk management strategy.
For the production environment in which end users operate, we schedule the maintenance windows on Sundays. And for the non-production environment that is used just for testing, for example, we set maintenance windows daily during the night hours.
software maintenance costs
deployment time for software updates
issues reported by users as proven by our real-life success stories
user satisfaction rate
ScienceSoft's Success Stories
Maintenance and Support of a Bio Lab Product Driving GSK and AstraZeneca
Development, testing, customization, and support of applications for large pharmaceutical companies like GSK and AstraZeneca.
Data Capture App Support for a UK Software Company
NOC monitoring, multi-tier support (L1, L2, L3) and customization for the data capture platform.
Remote IT Support for a US Telecommunications Services Provider
Support and maintenance of multiple .NET-based web applications: troubleshooting, bug fixing, urgent introduction of changes upon request.
L2, L3 Support of a Marketing Campaign Management Solution
L2 and L3 support for software under ongoing development to keep it stable and promptly introduce new system components.
Help Desk for End Users of Product Design Software
24/7 support of end users of an innovative SaaS platform for creating 3D visualizations of product interior designs.
SharePoint Farm Maintenance and Support for a UK Local Authority
Maintaining the sustainability of the SharePoint intranet, resolving critical issues and boost its overall performance.
Help Desk Services for an Ecommerce App
12/5 helpdesk services, creation of a knowledge base for support and maintenance documentation, training for the ecommerce app’s users.
ScienceSoft as a Trusted Software Support and Maintenance Provider
For the past 6 years, ScienceSoft has been a reliable partner in supporting and maintaining our HR software product. They have fixed hundreds of bugs in the product’s performance since the start of our cooperation back in 2016 and keep modernizing HR on our demand, introducing new features and tweaking existing functionality to let us better cater to our growing client base. […] Communication with ScienceSoft was always fast and solution-oriented. Their developers are highly motivated and skilled.
Peter Hermann, CEO , ZEITundZUTRITT GmbH
Typical Roles in Our Software Maintenance Teams
Depending on software maintenance and upgrade scope, the team may include various IT specialists, from developers to UI designers. Below, we describe the backbone talents required for the project involving both on-demand and continuous support activities:
Help desk specialists
- Receiving, registering, and tracking queries from software users.
- Solving simple and repeating issues (e.g., username and password problems, installing newly released patches and service packs).
- Escalating unsolved issues to L2/L3.
Application support engineers
- Continuous software monitoring and health checks.
- Fixing application performance issues.
- Resolving software configuration and account administration issues.
- Log investigation for root cause analysis of issues.
- Database administration.
- Fixing issues on the code and database levels.
- Creating new software components or features.
- Implementing software customizations, integrations, and performing migrations.
- Unit testing.
- Functional, regression, integration, and other types of testing to validate the quality and security of software after introducing the required changes.
- Automating the update and evolution processes using the CI/CD approach.
- Managing physical and virtual servers and their configurations.
- Configuring and optimizing cloud services.
- Solving infrastructure issues.
In-house maintenance and support
- Full control over the team.
- Potential lack of relevant talents.
- The process setup and all managerial efforts are on your side.
- High cost of keeping an in-house team.
Turn to ScienceSoft if you need expert help to design the support processes, pick the best talents, select the optimal tools, etc.
In-house management and outsourced resources
- Balanced mix of control and cost optimization.
- Establishing smooth cooperation between the in-house team and outsourced talents is challenging.
Turn to ScienceSoft if you need maintenance and support professionals to join your in-house team.
Fully outsourced maintenance and support
- Access to external expertise.
- Your IT team's reduced workload and focusing on the core tasks.
- Reduced costs.
- Exposing your IT infrastructure to an unreliable vendor might be risky.
Turn to ScienceSoft if you need a reliable and proactive tech partner to provide end-to-end software maintenance.
Consider Professional Software Maintenance Services
With over a decade of experience in software support and IT service management (ITSM), ScienceSoft offers the following service options:
Technologies We Use for Software Maintenance and Support
Usually, software maintenance and support costs are around 15–20% of the initial development costs (per year), and in total (during the entire software life cycle) they can be as high as 90% of the TCO. Monthly software maintenance costs can range from $5,000 to $50,000+, depending on app type and the required maintenance activities.
The support and maintenance costs vary a lot depending on the sourcing model. The general cost factors for software maintenance and support services are:
- The type of software maintenance (corrective, adaptive, perfective, preventive; on-demand, continuous, both).
- The type of software, its complexity, integrations and customizations, etc.
- The software availability requirements.
- The maintenance team’s composition, competencies, and workload, e.g., 5 FTE (168h*5), 1 FTE (168h), 0.25 FTE (40h).
- Time coverage (e.g., 8/5, 12/5, 24/5, 24/7).
- The number of software users.
- Availability of comprehensive software documentation required for maintenance.
In addition, ScienceSoft recommends considering cost factors specific to the chosen sourcing model:
In-house software maintenance
- Licenses for configuration, help desk, and other tools used by the team.
- Investments in the in-house staff training.
- Regular payment of salaries and fringe benefits, tax payments, etc.
Outsourced software maintenance
- The pricing model (per ticket, bucket of hours).
- The number of help desk tickets (agreed and extra).
ScienceSoft is a global IT consulting and services provider headquartered in McKinney, TX. We offer application maintenance and support services and help our customers set up robust software maintenance and support process. Being ISO 9001- and ISO 27001-certified, we rely on a mature quality management system and guarantee that cooperation with us does not pose any risks to our customers' data security.